Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from April 16, 2020

Posted at 5:51 AM, Apr 16, 2020

NOTE: This is the live blog from Thursday, April 16. Click here for the live blog for Friday, April 17, 2020.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Americans are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we won't be able to return to the normal we knew in January and February 2020 anytime soon.

In an exclusive interview with Denver7’s Anne Trujillo, Polis said we need to continue social distancing and avoiding groups of people.

“We need to do it a bit longer and things are not gonna return to anything close to the way they were while the virus is still with us," Polis said. "We’re gonna get through this together. Most of us are gonna be just fine. And we’re gonna make sure that we do everything that we can to protect people in Colorado, and have as quick an economic recovery as we can.”

READ MORE: List of Colorado businesses that are open

Click here for the latest update on the number of cases, the age, gender and location of presumptive positive, indeterminate and confirmed cases from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Below, we're updating this blog with the latest information regarding COVID-19 in Colorado.

Latest updates:

Thursday, April 16

8:59 p.m. | Glenwood Springs: Full-time city employees to take 10% pay cut due to COVID-19

All full-time city employees of Glenwood Springs will be taking a 10% pay cut in May and June, said Gary Tillotson, the Glenwood Springs Fire Chief. The pay cuts also include the fire department, he told Denver7 Thursday night. The decision to make pay cuts wil be re-evaluated after June.

6:20 p.m. | Polis, Bennet, Gardner ask for CARES Act changes

Gov. Jared Polis and Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet sent a letter Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for improvements to provisions under the CARES Act and for more funding and modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of money Thursday.

They are requesting more funding for health care workers, the PPP, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and an increase to SNAP benefits.

“Colorado is representative of America,” wrote the senators and the governor. “We have remote rural communities and large urban areas. We depend on the agriculture industry, but we also have some of the most cutting edge technology companies in the world. We are known for our restaurants, hotels, and outdoor recreation. Those industries are supported by countless plumbers, electricians, and contractors. And like America, we have our differences, but above all, Coloradans are pragmatic—we do what works. The ideas laid out in this letter reflect what Coloradans have told us is needed to make these programs work. We should waste no time in adopting them.”

“We believe that we share the common goals of keeping thousands of small businesses across Colorado and the nation with the ability to retain as many workers as they can, our hospitals and health care providers equipped with what they need, and state and local governments and tribes with the ability to respond during this pandemic,” they added.

Click here to read the full letter.

6:15 p.m. | Routt County commissioners meet to consider extending public health order

Routt County Commissioners met Thursday to discuss the possibility of extending the current public health order limiting lodging and public gatherings. Today's meeting focused on planning for a "return to normal" and what that may look like locally once the state's stay-at-home order is lifted.

They will meet early next week to formally consider extending the public health order to reduce community transmission of COVID-19.

5:52 p.m. | More rapid testing for Jefferson Co. public safety employees

Jefferson County has started using rapid response tests to test public safety workers on a voluntary basis, the sheriff’s office said Thursday afternoon. Thus far, 250 employees have participated.

Of that 250, 209 are employees of the sheriff’s office and 20 tested presumptive positive, including 12 deputies who work at county jails. The sheriff’s office said the 20 employees were referred to health care providers for additional testing and care and that they are not currently working.

The rapid test is performed at a drive-through at the sheriff’s office. A small blood sample is taken and results are turned around in 10 minutes with a 90% accuracy rate, the sheriff’s office said.

5:50 p.m. | Expanded drive-through testing in El Paso County

UCHealth and El Paso County Public Health say they have expanded testing guidelines at the drive-through testing facility a block east of Memorial Park.

Now, anyone who had a cough, fever or shortness of breath within the past 3-5 days will be tested.

The site is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

4:40 p.m. | Jury trial suspension extended to June 1

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats has extended his order issued mid-March suspending jury calls in Colorado to June 1 due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

“No person shall be required to report for jury service in a state court before June 1, 2020,” his order reads.

The order will remain in effect until it is withdrawn or amended by the chief justice.

4:35 p.m. | FEMA provides $4 million for convention center lease

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing $4 million to Colorado for the leasing costs of the Colorado Convention Center through July 31. The convention center is being transformed into a COVID-19 care facility, if needed. The FEMA funding was made available under the major diaster declaration issued by President Trump in March.

4:30 p.m. | Colorado to offer free SAT this fall

Colorado will offer the SAT test free of charge to high school seniors in the fall, after administration of the test was suspended this spring.

“It's important for many of our students and their families to know the state is still planning to provide them with an opportunity to take the test for free on a school day,” Katy Anthes, Colorado’s education commissioner, said in a news release. “Preserving continuity in the assessment expectations and experiences is especially important now as Colorado high school students navigate the many changes brought about by the national emergency.”

4:26 p.m. | Park County bans short-term rentals to mitigate further spread of COVID-19

The Park County Board of Commissioners has voted to ban short-term rentals in order to mitigate the further spread of the novel coronavirus in the county, but dispersed camping on federal lands by the county residents is still allowed as long as campers are otherwise in compliance with the public health order and all orders of the United States Forest Service.

4:10 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 numbers in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released updated case numbers at 4 p.m. As of Thursday, the data is as follows (Change from Wednesday in parenthesis):

8,675 cases (+395)
1,693 hospitalized (+57)
56 counties (+0)
41,830 people tested (1,297)
374 deaths (+17)
93 outbreaks (+10)

Earlier today, the CDPHE and Colorado Hospital Associations released new data on COVID-19, including current hospitalizations, daily discharges and the number of facilities expecting possible resource shortages. That data can be found on the state's website here.

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospitalizations as of April 16, 2020

4:05 p.m. | Von Miller tests positive for COVID-19

Broncos star Von Miller tested positive for COVID-19, a source confirmed to Denver7’s Troy Renck Thursday. He is resting at home and texting with teammates, who say they are hopeful he recovers quickly.

Click here to read more.

2:50 p.m. | Vitalant, Centura collecting plasma from recovered patients

Vitalant and Centura Health say they collected their first donation of convalescent plasma this week to begin antibody treatments for people with the novel coronavirus. The donation came from a doctor who had mild symptoms of COVID-19 and tested positive.

The FDA approved convalescent plasma treatment as an “emergency investigational new drug” while clinical trials are ongoing for a vaccine.

The partners say the treatment might give people experiencing the virus extra antibodies to fight the disease.

“What if your donation could save the life of someone who is currently facing COVID-19? You can make your suffering through this virus count,” stated Dr. Shauna Gulley, Chief Clinical Officer from Centura Health, “Although still investigational, some experts believe that using convalescent plasma will give people a better chance of recovery. If you have faced coronavirus and recovered, you can join us on the front lines through donating plasma.”

People hoping to donate must meet certain criteria and can apply to be part of the program by clicking here.

Those criteria include: A prior lab-confirmed positive test for COVID-19; full resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days and other FDA donor requirements for people to donate plasma.

2:46 p.m. | Update on Denver Public Safety employees

The Denver Joint Information Center said Thursday 64 Denver Department of Public Safety employees had tested positive for COVID-19 but that 30 of them have already recovered.

That number includes Denver police, firefighters, deputies and dispatchers. Denver Health paramedics are not included in the count, the city said.

2:30 p.m. | Colorado health officials say mass testing, containment strategy needed before stay-at-home can lift

Colorado public health officials said Thursday that getting better testing capacity and materials in place, and a robust COVID-19 identification and containment strategy, would be the “foundational element” of when the state can start to lift the stay-at-home order and other social distancing measures.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman, and State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy, said Thursday that better testing capabilities would be crucial to when those orders might start being lifted.

Bookman said state health officials were working with local public health agencies, hospitals and federal partners to identify locations across the state where mass testing can be performed. Officials have recently said they will also need to hire and train many people to build out the tracing network.

Click here to read the full story.

12:45 p.m. | New data expected illustrating COVID-19 recovery rate and demand on health care system

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Hospital Association say they are partnering to release new data on COVID-19, including current hospitalizations, daily discharges and the number of facilities expecting possible resource shortages. That data can be found on the state's website here.

This data will also help provide a picture of the demand the virus is putting on hospitals, according to a release from CDPHE and CHA.

12:35 p.m. | Another 104K Coloradans filed for unemployment last week; federal benefit system expected soon

Another 104,217 Coloradans filed initial unemployment claims last week – more than the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment processed in all of 2019 – and the state says it expects to roll out the additional unemployment filling system for self-employed and gig workers in the next couple of days.

Over the past four weeks, a total of 231,610 initial claims were filed. Last week’s number was more than 55,000 more initial claims than were filed the week before.

CDLE Senior Economist Ryan Gedney said Thursday that the four-week figure of 231,610 initial claims surpassed the yearly total of claims in any year between 2011 and 2019. In 2011, for instance, 208,000 claims were filed for the entire year.

Click here to read the full story.

7:30 a.m. | Colorado Department of Labor and Employment says more than 100,000 initial unemployment claims filed April 5-11

This morning, the department said 104,217 initial unemployment claims were filed for the week of April 5-11. This is more than 55,000 over the previous week. Over the past four weeks, 231,610 initial claims have been filed.

7:08 a.m. | National Jewish Health will expand COVID-19 testing

Beginning Thursday, National Jewish Health will offer expanded drive-through testing to patients who have preregistered and have a physician referral. Once the referral order has been received, the National Jewish Health schedule team will contact the person and offer a time period for the test. Results will be available within 24 hours.

5 a.m. | Happening today: Park County commissioners to vote on closing county roads

Park County commissioners are expected to vote today on if they, like Clear Creek County, will close their county roads to non-county residents in an effort to reduce the number of visitors and protect its residents. The Zoom call is expected to begin at 9:30 a.m.

Click here for the live blog from Wednesday, April 15, 2020.